Phillies-Angels 5 Things: Clutch Hits Needed to Avoid Sweep Against L.A.

Phillies (39-66) at Angels (53-55)
10:07 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on and the NBC Sports App

It took one half-inning for Wednesday's Phillies game to turn sour, with Jake Thompson getting blown up for three homers and seven runs - of which only two were earned - in the third. That was all for the 7-0 game in terms of scoring. The Phillies were blanked for the seventh time this year.

They'll obviously need more than that to avoid the sweep tonight and beat the Angels for the first time since the two teams' first ever meeting in 2003. Let's get to the details.

1. Offensive woes
During the Phillies' five-game win streak to end their last homestand, they averaged more than six runs. In two games in Anaheim, they've scored just one run total. It's only two games, but it's not encouraging.

As it has been for much of the season, performance with runners in scoring position is the issue. So far this series, the Phils are 2-21 with RISP. On the season, they're hitting .237 with RISP. Eight hits Wednesday were good for just one run. Scoring runs are hard to do when no one can get clutch hits. 

With this note though comes a bit of a silver lining. Cesar Hernandez has four hits and a walk in the leadoff spot so far this series. In 15 games since returning from the DL, he's hitting .355. Should the Phillies elect to trade Hernandez in the offseason to give Scott Kingery the major-league second baseman spot, a second half like this would be nice boost to Hernandez's value.

2. Eickhoff on the mound
A couple months ago, things couldn't have been much worse for Jerad Eickhoff. After looking like a solid mid-to-back of the rotation guy last season, he lost his first seven decisions of 2017 and then landed on the DL with a with a back injury.

But since then he's rebounded. He's won two of his four starts since returning July 9 and has gone at least five innings each time out. His last outing earned a no-decision, but the Phillies still topped the Braves, 4-3. Just one of the three runs Eickhoff allowed was earned.

Ben Revere and Andrelton Simmons are the only Angels to have faced Eickhoff before. Each has one hit against him.

3. Homeward bound?
Be honest. A big part of the reason most people have tuned into these late night games has been to watch Mike Trout play against his hometown Phillies for the first time since 2014. Maybe it's a preview for when the longtime Philly sports fan moves back East … like when he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. Trout discussed the possibility with CSNPhilly's Gregg Murphy Wednesday.

"Obviously I have a couple more years on my contract," Trout said. "Growing up as a kid, you always want to play for your team, but I love it in Anaheim. I can't say enough about this organization, I was brought up here and we'll see what happens."

Speculation aside, Trout is still having the type of season that any team would love to have. The two-time MVP is hitting .335 (a career high) with 20 home runs - and he missed all of June because of a thumb injury. He got the scoring going during Wednesday's seven-run third inning with a two-run bomb off Thompson.

4. Baby bullpen
With Pat Neshek and Joaquin Benoit gone, some of the Phillies' younger bullpen arms will have to eat more innings and make their case for the future. The results, as they've been this series, will be mixed.

On Tuesday, Aaron Nola pitched a quality start and set up the 'pen for success. Then Mark Leiter Jr. allowed three runs in the seventh and call-up Drew Anderson let up one himself in the eighth. He struck out Mike Trout for his first major-league K but was sent back to Reading after the game. Overall, not a good night for the bullpen. 

But last night was better. Adam Morgan pitched two scoreless innings. Jesen Therien, who tore up both Double and Triple A before being called up last week, added another clear frame. He is 24 years old.

Edubray Ramos is back in the majors after clearing his head in Lehigh Valley. Luis Garcia, while not exactly young at 30 years old, looks like a new pitcher compared to the one the Phillies sent to and from the minors 22 times since late in 2013. Hector Neris has two wins and a save in his last three outings. Moving forward, it will be all about adding effective outings to the résumé for these bullpen arms.

5. This and that
• The Phillies never played the Angels before 2003. They won the first game that year behind Vincente Padilla. Since then, they've lost 11 straight, tying the mark for the longest losing streak against one team in interleague play, per Elias.

• A hamstring tweak for Aaron Altherr and the DH slot has allowed Hyun Soo Kim to get some at-bats. He has one hit and four walks since coming over from the Orioles in the Jeremy Hellickson trade. With Altherr, Odubel Herrera and Nick Williams healthy, Kim won't see many ABs.

• Parker Birdwell starts for the Angels. They bought him from Baltimore in April and sent him to Triple A, but he's found himself in the big leagues thanks to injuries in the Angels' rotation. He's allowed two runs or less in seven of his nine appearances (eight starts) and owns a 2-1 record and 2.83 ERA.

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